Get involved! Send your photos, video, news & views by texting MG NEWS to 80360 or e-mail us
Shock report reveals hundreds of adults abused in own home
MORE than 1,300 cases of adult abuse have been reported in Worcestershire over the past year, it has emerged.
In many cases, the abuse is perpetrated by the victim’s close family and friends who do just enough to cover their tracks, the data reveals.
The new information from Worcestershire County Council shows how in 2012/13, it received just over 1,300 “alerts” of alleged abuse against a vulnerable adult.
As well as physical and emotional attacks, the reports included financial abuse, cases where vulnerable people have money taken from them.
After launching investigations, 750 of them were dropped because there was not enough evidence to prove what had taken place, but 31 were investigated by police.
County Hall says about 60 per cent of the abuse took place inside care homes and 30 per cent in someone’s own home. Reports of abuse tend to come from people within the victim’s family, concerned neighbours or, in some cases, health professionals.
The findings were debated during an adult care scrutiny panel, with many members saying they were concerned at the results.
Councillor Andy Fry said: “As an authority, we have to be careful here about these findings.
“We know the council has financial pressures and we have to be careful that using less expensive adult care providers doesn’t mean a worse service.”
Coun Sheila Blagg, cabinet member responsible for adult social care, said: “There will always be cases where a less expensive care provider will be considered the best option, and sometimes that might be from the person’s own family.
“But we are careful not to go down particular routes because of pressure from a family or care provider.
“Everyone is assessed and treated as an individual. It’s not about money, it’s about making sure we’ve got the right people and processes in place.”
The authority says it tends to get about 1,300 to 1,500 cases of abuse reported every year, and that proving them is normally quite difficult.
Coun Tom Wells, who chairs the adult care scrutiny panel, said: “What we don’t know is how big the iceberg is out there – the things that go on that we don’t see.”
And the senior director in charge of adult care says no stones are left unturned in investigating abuse. Dr Richard Harling, director of adult services and health, says many cases are “extremely complex” and hard to prove, even if staff suspect wrongdoing.
He said: “As an example, one case I am dealing with at the moment involves two groups of families, and one side has made allegations of abuse against an elderly victim.
“The other side has come back with counter allegations, which gives a different picture, and working all of that through is very detailed and complicated. “That’s just one we are dealing with at the moment.”
The council did provide other examples yesterday of cases it had solved – including one involving a severely disabled man cared for by his wife.
The victim was being slapped and verbally abused by his wife, and after being investigated she said it was down to getting very stressed as his main carer.
Extra support was arranged and now the wife has respite care from adult social workers to lend a hand. Staff are continuing to monitor the situation.
The service works in tandem with Worcestershire’s Adult Safeguarding Board, which says it is working on closer relationships between the council, NHS and police.
Peter Morgan, the chairman, said in some abuse cases it takes major efforts to stop it carrying on.
“Most abuse against vulnerable adults happens between friends and families,” he said.
“The impact of that happening, by the people they are closest to, doesn’t stop once they no longer have access to their personal bank account, for example.
“It’s our duty to help put a stop to it.”